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United States v. Dougherty

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 4, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KEITH THOMAS DOUGHERTY, Defendant.

          Jeffrey A. Finucane, Assistant United States Attorney, Martinsburg, West Virginia Counsel for the United States of America

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLM F. CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 17, 2019, Defendant Keith Thomas Dougherty was charged by a grand jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania with one count of mailing threatening communications to a federal district court judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. §876(c), and one count of using electronic mail to threaten another federal district court judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). D.I. 1. To avoid any appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest, the case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 292(b), the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Third Circuit designated this Court to preside over the case. D.I. 8.

         Pending before the Court are six motions filed by Defendant.

         I. Background

         The government did not seek to detain Defendant pending trial. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge released him under the supervision of the United States Pretrial Services Office.

         On May 6, 2019, the Magistrate Judge appointed the Federal Public Defender in the Middle District of Pennsylvania to represent Defendant. D.I. 10. On May 23, 2019, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and the Magistrate Judge ordered that all pre-trial motions be filed on or before June 24, 2019. D.I. 15, 16.

         On May 28, 2019, the Defendant mailed a nine-page, incoherent letter to the Magistrate Judge titled "Letter to the Court demand for (pro se access] to the 'retaliatory indictment scheme' [the West Virginian DA] 'does not wish to be contacted' [per Video] Conference (statement)[.]" D.I. 17 (brackets in the original).

         On June 14, 2019, Mr. Thomas Young, Esquire, from the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of New Jersey was substituted as Defendant's counsel. D.I. 19. Shortly after his appointment, Mr. Young requested that the deadline for pre-trial motions be extended for 60 days. The Court granted this reasonable request and ordered pre-trial motions to be filed no later than August 26, 2019. D.I 22.

         Based on Defendant's May 28, 2019 letter and his repeated and often hostile telephone calls to the Court's chambers and the clerk's office, the United States Pretrial Services Office requested that the terms of Defendant's pre-trial release be modified to require Defendant to undergo a mental health evaluation. Defendant and the government consented to this request on June 21, 2019, and the Court granted the request. D.I. 15, 16.

         On June 24, 2019, Defendant faxed to the clerk's office a series of emails he had exchanged with Mr. Young. Defendant wrote on the cover sheet to the fax that he had fired Mr. Young. D.I. 23.

         On July 1, 2019, Dr. Bruke Tadesse, a pscyhologist retained by the Pretrial Services Office, examined Defendant. Dr. Tadesse found among other things that Defendant's "[t]hought content was free of psychosis or delusions[, ]" his "[t]hought [p]rocess was logical, linear and goal directed[, ]" his "[i]nsight and [j]udgment was good[J" and his "[c]ognition appeared grossly intact." D.I. 61 at 2.

         On July 8, 2019 and July 12, 2019, Defendant filed two more letters with the Court's clerk. Though the letters are rambling and have incoherent passages and references, it can be discerned from them that Defendant alleged that the clerk's office had engaged in criminal conduct by refusing to provide Defendant with access to the court's electronic filing system, that Defendant had fired his attorney, and that Defendant's emails with his counsel had been "surreptitiously removed" by "FBI or NSA" from Defendant's email account. D.I. 26, 27.

         On August 2, 2019, Defendant filed an "Entry of Appearance," by which he "demand[ed] entry of appearance pro se[.]" D.I. 28. On August 12, 2019, Defendant filed another rambling and largely incoherent ...


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